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a wednesday diversion*

March 10, 2010

chapter books

As often as possible, I spend a half hour or more reading to my children before they go to sleep. I try to choose books that would be deemed slightly inappropriate by some parents as these tend to inspire a line of questioning and conversation that seems most edifying for all involved. We frequent stories about fearful sorrow and bullied children as much as we visit frivolous joy and pig detectives. A note to those ‘grown-ups’ with a more sterile parenting style: you may want to pre-read any Roald Dahl books before exposing your offspring to his vile imagination. My six year old has heard most of Dahl’s stories read aloud, but some of you may not be ready for that yet. If you’re not quite sure what I mean by slightly inappropriate, take a look at Curious Pages to get your brain juice going. If there is a quality list of recommended inappropriate reading, this is it.

Once I grew tired of reading and rereading the parade of picture books bestowed on our newly minted family by well-wishing relatives and friends, I jumped into the world of chapter books. I didn’t want to stifle my children’s development by sticking to a vocabulary they had already mastered. It’s a wonderful joy to read aloud and see their expressions change and their eyes dart forth and back as the fairy-tale worlds come to life in their minds.

Sometimes, the best part about chapter books is the wait in between readings. What goes on in a six year old’s imagination while waiting for the next chapter to begin? What does a child’s developing brain learn about the perception of time when he experiences the passing of a day or a week, yet the characters in the waiting chapter experience no time lost at all?

“Now, Edward,” she said to him after she was done winding the watch, “when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the three, I will come home to you.”
She placed Edward on a chair in the dining room and positioned the chair so that Edward was looking out the window and could see the path that led up to the Tulane front door. Abilene balanced the watch on his left leg. She kissed the tips of his ears, and then she left and Edward spent the day staring out at Egypt Street, listening to the tick of his watch and waiting.

We’ve been reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane several chapters at a time over the last week. Tonight we read chapters 22 through 26, stopping short of the final chapter. “We’re not going to finish?” my son asked. “Nope,” I said, “I want you to think about what might happen, until we read again tomorrow.” His eyes glimmered.

“I love you, Edward,” Abilene said each night after Pellegrina had left. She said those words and then she waited, almost as if she expected Edward to say something in return.
Edward said nothing. He said nothing because, of course, he could not speak.

*a sun/mon/tues/wednes/thurs/fri/saturday diversion is a digression into nearly irrelevant details, an amusement, a slight deflection from the content generated by the waiters, intended to keep you pleasantly occupied until the next update…or diversion…whatever comes first.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 7:28 am

    Great little piece. Brightened may day.

    And made me want to read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane again. Like, right now. But the day is coming at me fast.

    I guess I’ll have to wait.

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